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Ask the Dog Trainer: My Puppy Bites My Feet!

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ColSafford DogTipperDo you have a question about training your dog? In our “Ask the Dog Trainer” column, expert trainer Colleen Safford answers reader questions about all aspects of dog training. Colleen is the founder of New York Walk & Train, named “Best of NY” by New York Magazine.

My 1-year-old Pomeranian likes to bite my feet as I walk. He’s just playing but it is annoying and it hurts. How can I make him stop?

That was an easy visual to create. A little Pom doing the happy dance; barking, play growling and engaging a mock battle with those socks and feet. While admittedly entertaining to envision, “OUCH” for the unwilling participant.

Your Pom needs an understanding of appropriate play behavior. I recently answered a question about a Boston Terrier puppy nibbler and the answer is very similar.

This is both play and attention seeking behavior. A few pointers to add onto the answer here:

  1. Stop your Pom before he starts! – The key to modern dog training is preventing undesired behaviors from being practiced while teaching our dogs what we expect of them in specific situations. So, you need to be a step ahead of your Pom (not physically, but mentally). You now likely can predict when this behavior is going to happen and or see the wheels start spinning in your little nutter. This is a good thing and something to use to your advantage.
  2. Train or ask for a replacement behavior – Think about what you’d like your dog to be doing instead. I’d say trotting nicely next to you, offering a sit or engaging with legal chew toys. Again, before your dog launches his mock attack on your feet, ask that he offer a nice sit and reinforce the behavior lavishly. Every few steps, walk, request a sit and reward. Your dog will soon learn that looking up at you and waiting for your request pays off!
  3. Buy your dog appropriate play outlets and offer those to him BEFORE he starts seam ripping your socks. Meaning, when you get up to walk, toss a toy for him to carry. When he chases and grabs it; praise him with “good toy” and even tug a bit on it with him.

Are you getting the theme here? PREVENT the behavior by predicting it and teach your pup new and legal behaviors!

Do you have a dog training or behavior question for Colleen Safford? Please submit your question using our submit a question contact form (or if you have any problems with the form, just drop us a line at editors AT dogtipper.com and we’ll forward your question to Colleen.) Questions will be answered online in this column and not individually. (See more articles by and about Colleen Safford on DogTipper.)

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About Paris Permenter

Paris Permenter is the founder and co-publisher of LT Media Group LLC. Along with her husband, John Bigley, she edits DogTipper.com, CatTipper.com, and has authored over 30 books on pets and travel.

  • Sean

    Right now we’re having an issue with my brother’s 1 1/2 year old Rotweiller Male. We’ve had him neutered, but he’s quite a pain. He’s chewed up several remote controls, ripped things up, barks quite loudly and has scratched up doors. My mother has almost worn out our rug cleaning machine cleaning up his messes.

    I’ve spoken to my brother about it and he says the reason the dog isn’t behaving properly is that everyone in the house isn’t training him the right way. And that he does listen to him, but not us. Actually, he doesn’t do that either, and again my brother says that the reason is that WE aren’t training him the right way.

    Is this really true, or is it somewhat of a whitewash on his part? Do you think everyone in the house is responsible to train the dog, or does the responsibility lie with the owner? So, he’s saying that in order for him to be properly trained, everyone must train him the right way. This does seem somewhat unfair as we didn’t ask for the dog and now have the burden of training him. Usually when the dog is trained by one person is that enough. Seems by his logic, everyone who meets the dog will have to spend days or weeks, just so the dog won’t jump on him and bite them. My mother is thinking of sending him away to a training camp, where he will board for 3 weeks and be trained.

    We’ve had two other dogs, Our black Labrador Dalmation mix of 13 died in January of 2009. We also have a Siberian Husky female, that’s about 3 years old (she was around when the lab was alive) I don’t recall really ever having to train them. The Rotweiller did spend a few nights total in a dog training class when we first got him at 8 weeks. My mom wants to send him back to school, but if what my brother says is true since everyone will have to train him right and the right way, that this won’t be enough.